Democratic debate in Ohio produces 'expodentially' entertaining memes

Tom Steyer's Christmas tie, Andrew Yang's MATH button, and Joe Biden's gaffe all inspire jokes.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

Billionaire Tom Steyer and his tie answer questions during the Democratic presidential debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Tuesday. 

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Twelve Democratic candidates for president faced off Tuesday night at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Eleven had participated in similar debates already this year, but one, hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, was new to the battle. 

Steyer joined former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; former Housing Secretary Julián Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Sen. Kamala Harris of California; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

That's a lot of people on one stage, but nothing escaped the eagle eyes of viewers. Steyer's red plaid tie immediately attracted interest. YouTubers The Gregory Brothers snarked on Twitter , "Mr. Steyer, you claim to be a billionaire, and yet, that is your tie."

And multiple accounts were quickly set up for the tie itself. "Do I really look like Scotch tape?" one of the accounts asked. 

Who's the new guy? 

Some viewers commented on the fact that Steyer was the newbie to the group. "Tom Steyer on stage like the RPG character you get late in the game and never use," wrote Mike Drucker on Twitter.

Buttoned up 

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang also earned clothing commentary, this time for a tightly buttoned shirt as well as a MATH pin. "My guy Andrew Yang has been working out," wrote Twitter user Dave Ross. "That top button is BEGGING to be released."

It all adds up 

Yang's MATH pin also had people adding up snappy commentary. "Lots of people tweeting about Andrew Yang's lapel pin," wrote Twitter user Scott Santens. "Yes, it says MATH. Math stands for 'Make America Think Harder.'"

Another Twitter user felt the pin should start a trend.

"I like Andrew Yang's math pin," wrote Joseph Scrimshaw. "I feel all the candidates should have a pin with their favorite word on it. Mine would be either LIGHTSABER or MARTINI.

'Expodential' fun

Former Vice President Joe Biden earned buzz for a mangled word, saying "expodentially" when he apparently meant "exponentially." Twitter loves nothing more than a new word ("covfefe," anyone?) and adopted this one right away.

"My interest in these debates has declined expodentially," wrote one Twitter user.

Wrote another, "I'm gonna need Merriam Webster to weigh in on Joe Biden's use of 'expodentially,'" wrote another. 

Naturally, "expodentially" also earned its own Twitter account.